HARRISON -- Ronald Vinton Jones was born June 23, 1944, in Phoenix, Ariz., the first child of Vinton and Mildred Evelyn (Yancy) Jones. He passed away at his home in Harrison, Neb., on Oct. 3, 2008, at the age of 64. He was baptized at the Methodist Church in Benkelman, Neb., as a young child.
Ron's early education began at a one room country school, District 44, in southwest Chase County, Neb., while his parents were living on the family ranch with his grandparents, Arda and Grace (Williams) Jones. When his parents moved to Benkelman in 1951, to start an aerial spraying business, Ron entered the first grade there, graduating from Benkelman High School with the class of 1962. Upon graduation he attended college in Fort Collins, Colo., before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1964.
His military service included a tour of duty in Vietnam. He served as a crew chief on helicopters providing protection and rescue missions for the troops on the ground, receiving multiple air medals for his heroic actions. Ron received his honorable discharge on May 5, 1967. Upon completion of his military service Ron returned to his parents' home in Benkelman and joined the family aerial spraying business.
Flying was always second nature to Ron as he grew up in the family aerial spraying business. He started receiving flight instruction from his father, Vinton, at an early age. He made his first solo flight on Thanksgiving Day in 1960. Shortly after that he received his private pilot's license.
Ron's early flying included flying with his brother in all kinds of weather to the farm to do Grandpa Jones' chores before school and late night flights to give friends rides when his dad was out of town. He flew numerous types of airplanes over the years for pleasure and working in the agricultural aviation industry.
His brother, Stan, always likes to comment, "Ron could fly the box it came in." Ron and his father expanded the aerial spraying business to Imperial in 1969. Ron would later start his own business at the location under the name of Top Flight Ag Service, where he provided aerial application, charter services, flight instruction, aircraft sales and served as the fixed base airport operator. After selling the business he became a pilot for his brother's aerial spraying business in Benkelman and Imperial.
He received the National Safety Award for his excellent flight record. Ron retired from flying in 2001 for health reasons.
While living in Imperial, Ron met and married Catherine Hanna on June 28, 1969, at Imperial. To this union his two children were born, Shanna Dee Jones and Travis Jay Jones. Although they moved to Colorado with their mother at a young age, Ron was a constant in their lives. His children were a source of great pride and joy to him as they grew up and started their own careers and families.
On Oct. 21, 1993, at Champion, Neb., Ron married Donna Riggs. After Ron's retirement they moved to Harrison, Neb., to be closer to Donna's children and grandchildren. Ron was always involved in a project. He built additions to and remodeled more houses than his family can remember.
Gardening was a favorite hobby, as was canning, freezing and cooking his produce. Ron was an avid reader, racing fan and quite the trivia buff. He could beat anyone at a game of Jeopardy. Collecting was another passion -- antiques, favorite hats, family history and aviation memorabilia.
Ron was a lifetime member of both the National Agricultural Aviation Association and the Nebraska Aviation Trades Association. He was a member of the VFW, Eagles, and of special pride to him was becoming the first member of the Champion Historical Society.
He took great pride in his military service and was always willing to volunteer for honor guard duty, especially for those that served in Vietnam. Ron was instrumental in getting a Sons of the American Legion organization started in Benkelman, as well as being a tireless promoter of VFW organizations in the communities in which he lived and visited.
Preceding him in death was his father, Vinton; his maternal grandparents, Luther and Zella Yancy; and his maternal grandparents, Arda and Grace Jones.
He is survived by his wife, Donna of Harrison; his mother, "Millie" Jones of North Platte; his daughter, Shanna Timmons and husband, Brian of Denver, Colo.; son Travis Jones and wife, Devon of Erie, Colo.; brother, Stanley Jones and wife, Phyllis of Benkelman; sister, Jana Mintling and husband, R.J. of Wauneta; grandson, Charles Timmons; step-children, Dani Harding and husband, Lloyd of Mitchell, Tricia Meidell and husband, Eric of Harrison, and Shawn Rudloff, also of Harrison; 13 step-grandchildren; and numerous other family members and friends.
On Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008, a memorial service with full military honors well be at the Crete Cemetery in Chase County, Neb., which is the resting place of his paternal grandparents